Shared and fragmented understandings in interorganizational IT project teams: An interpretive case study

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McCarthy, Stephen
O'Raghallaigh, Paidi
Fitzgerald, Ciara
Adam, Frédéric
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Research Projects
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Shared understanding is essential in interorganizational projects to integrate the divergent knowledge of individual team members and support collaborative knowledge building. This can nevertheless be a challenging undertaking in interorganizational projects as team members must continuously negotiate differences in their organizational and professional backgrounds during project work. In this paper, we explore how interorganizational IT project teams deal with sources of ‘fragmentation’ in their understanding, explicating the theoretical and practical implications that these have for project management. Our study is needed to explore the increasingly complex and emergent nature of interorganizational project management today where neither goals nor the means of attainment are known with precision at a project's launch. We analyze interpretive case study findings from an 8-month IT project involving diverse organizations from industry, academia, and healthcare. Based on our findings, we develop a framework which highlights the relationship between three sources of fragmentation of understanding (interpersonal, technical, and contextual) across key project activities. We contribute towards project management literature by revealing how these sources of fragmentation might be overcome through framing project activities (the problem, method, and solution formulation) differently. While fragmentation may characterize any, or all, of these key activities, it is not without remedy.
Interorganizational projects , Shared understanding , Fragmentation , Knowledge integration , Systems development
McCarthy, S., O’Raghallaigh, P., Fitzgerald, C. and Adam, F. (2021) ‘Shared and fragmented understandings in interorganizational IT project teams: An interpretive case study’, International Journal of Project Management, 39(7), pp. 762–773.